Monday, October 13, 2008

Brain Cramps and other Missteps

"Our steps are made firm by the Lord, when he delights in our way; though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand" (Psalm 37:23-24). I could take that verse quite literally yesterday at Rural Lutheran as I assisted with the liturgy. It was one of those days of brain cramps and literal missteps.

Part of the misstep issue is due to my height, or should I say lack thereof? I had to have my alb specially made because no one keeps my size (short, but big enough to go around me) on hand. So, the alb has not yet arrived and I am using one I borrowed from the seminary--the shortest one I could find. It still isn't short enough and I have to tuck it and hike it up...well you get the idea. It didn't stay hiked up enough yesterday though. I was carrying the full offering plates (which meant I had two full hands and couldn't grab the the alb to lift it as I ascended the stairs to the altar). I stepped on the bottom of the alb with one foot, then the other, but finally made it to my place. PHEW!! That's over with...but not so fast.

Next, a bit later, when it was my turn to lead in prayer, I stepped up, but there was no step where I stepped and I about landed headlong on the altar. But thankfully, Rural Pastor was watching and prevented a further accident.

Those were the physical missteps, but now come the brain cramps besides! At this church they intinct at communion. I know this. I've assisted in previous weeks and communed there since teaching parish began. When Rural Pastor communed me, I promptly ate the bread, forgetting to keep it for intinction. I was so embarrassed when he gave me the cup to intinct. All I could say was that I forgot and he said it was ok and gave me the cup to drink from.

But it gets worse! I have assisted at several different churches for a number of years. I don't know how many times I've said, "Go in peace. Serve the Lord!" I said "Go in peace..." and then went blank. I was going mentally through a rolladex of possible endings "Share the good news!" "Feed the poor." "Remember the poor." You get the idea. Rural Pastor leaned over and said, "Serve the Lord."

This was a humbling experience. Sometimes we know something so well that we don't think about what we're doing or saying. At times we're forced to slow down, like I was yesterday. I am very blessed to have Rural Pastor as my teaching parish mentor. He is so easy going and patient. He just laughed afterwards and said the same thing has happened to him at times. So, I'm grateful for God's grace and Rural Pastor's as well. And I'm glad I didn't fall literally flat on my face.

Flickr picture.


Andy said...

OK, yes, I'm laughing, but it's SYMPATHETIC LAUGHTER! Reminds me of the first time I ever spoke/preached. I had a good one-hour talk prepared.

Seven minutes later, I was done.

Ivy said...

From 1 hour to 7 minutes--OUCH. I'm just grateful for the grace of my pastor/supervisor.

steve martin said...

I'm sure every Minister of the Word has stories like that one.

It's a great learning experience for you (the best lessons are the hard ones)and conregations do not mind missteps.

I think it actually gives God something to chuckle about. It might sometimes get a bit boring for him as we turn our liturgical cranks the same way time and time again.

You will someday play the role of Rural Pastor someday to a nervous greenhorn, showing patience and grace.

Ivy said...

Thank you, Steve for your encouraging words. Blessings.

The Unlikely Conversationalist: said...

thanks for sharing
there are no shortage of misques in worship.
I had two right in the first 5 minutes at a funeral yesterday and I've been doing funerals for a good decade now. It just proves that I still can't get it always right. And getting it right doesn't matter.
Worship in the end is never about us doing it right; it's about us hearing the Word and gathering around the water, bread and wine. God comes as promised. The best we can hope for is to be good stewards who have humility and humor. I pray that God might be laughing and singing along with us all the way as we praise his name.
Keep at it

Ivy said...

Thank you for the reminder, Pr. Unlikely concerning the why of our gathering. Even the most seasoned having occasional miscues does give me hope. Peace.

LawAndGospel said...

Ivy, these things happen to all of us, and not just in our first year at seminary. Someone once forgot to unwrap the bread and when it came forward for presentation, it had a price tag. And for a laugh, go here:

Ivy said...

That's a good one, Law and Gospel. I should be doing Greek, but I think that I need to check out that YouTube. Peace and have a good weekend. You must be thrilled that it will be a long one with reading days.